The two court rulings this week relating to the whelming social issue of gay rights provoke fiery passions and deep conflicts. I wish it were not so, but it is, and I think I understand it. But I believe it’s best for everyone to take a few steps back and try to view the larger frame. Regardless the technical strengths and weaknesses of constitutional jurisprudence, and there are both, in the arguments made before the court as well as in the decisions and dissents of the justices, the core issue grinding these judicial proceedings is simply one of human decency and social equity.
My citizenship credentials are conservative; philosophically, politically, economically and ethically. I am Roman Catholic by birth and by informed adult choice. So I understand much of what motivates protest against gay rights. But the good Lord blessed me with a free will and a soul I have a responsibility to nurture with thoughts and deeds that my free will makes manifest. I follow no dictates except those of my conscience. This is only one issue on which I disagree with my church.
To assert that gay couples are somehow less capable than heterosexuals, or worse, less deserving, of sustained loving spousal relationships is prima facie wrong, not to mention mean. So, too, I think, are assertions that homosexuality is not a biological/psychological imperative. And biology incurs no dimension of morality.
I don’t pretend any expertise or special insight. My views develop from an unremarkable life of experience and observation. I fully admit I don’t understand homosexual attraction, and the thought of it can make me squeamish, but my sensibilities should have no impact on the issue. Even if I’m wrong, and instead of an organic compulsion homosexuality is a consciously chosen lifestyle, then I’m entitled to make a moral judgment, but my judgment, or yours, has no legal standing under our system of laws.
Getting back to decency and equity, marriage is an exquisitely personal contract between two people. The state has no business meddling with such a relationship, and certainly not by either requiring or forbidding marriage by anyone. But because marriage has become so complexly interfaced with bureaucracy, the state does have a role, a very simple one, and that is to accept it. All marriages, regardless the sex of the partners, should be treated by the state in exactly the same ways. That is all that decency and equity requires.
Moreover, the escalating war of belligerent rhetoric badly needs a truce. There are no categorical demons in this. Supporters and opponents of gay marriage are neither good nor bad people because of their positions. Both sides sorely need to find a way to respect the opposing view, because without that respect there can be no tolerance, and without tolerance there can be no healthy civil society. Disagreement within a pluralist society is a given, and it often serves as the engine of improvement. But demagoguery, no matter its ilk, will only destroy us. The state, on the other hand, should remain neutral and administer its marriage related functions fairly, without the prejudice to which individual citizens may be entitled.
Marriage is a vital societal lynchpin. But our American institution of marriage is in sad shape. Instead of warring, we should be joining forces to do everything possible to encourage its pursuit. And that applies most assuredly to gay couples as to anyone else.
(Another reblog from my first month here – January.)
does authority shackle us
in a shadow world of half-truths
cast before us by unseen fire
is enlightenment after all
merely the selfsame illusions
by different inadequate light
can the sunlit unfettered few
convince us the world offers more
than dark reflections from the pyre
between truth and perception are
distortions imposed by those who
prefer we have ignorant sight
(originally posted January 2013)
when three sheets fly free
avoid the temptations of
lightning and thunder
better to belly-crawl down
below curbs and high-heeled shoes
rain makes the leaves jump
like flouncy marionettes
trickling with laughter
(I wrote this piece a few years ago and originally posted it here in January.)
What Karl Popper missed in his Plato
Was its nourishment of the most profound thought
That justice is born through induction
Of cardinal virtues innately caught
Once abstracted those virtues compel
Good-willed men to shape frameworks for governing
That will channel the right moral flow
From which perfect justice may spring
“The Republic” was no bleak ordainment
Of flawed, fated, subjective norms
But rather sketched ideal conditions
For souls to attain flawless forms
* * *
What George Soros missed in his Popper
Were grave perils that perforce obtain
When non-judged good and evil seek power
And find equal permission to reign
Instead of a thwart to oppressive regimes
As they’d have you believe is their goal
Glib Liberalist ideologues
Play the cruel and quite opposite role
By denying the soul its perfection
Their errant philosophy breeds
Corrupt elevation to leadership
Of tyrants hellbent…
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(My mind seems stuck on a war footing these last few days. Here, I reblog some reflections I originally posted in January.)
“In peace, sons bury fathers. In war, fathers bury sons.”
Attributed by Herodotus in Book 1 of The Histories to the Lydian king Croesus, from a speech in which Croesus was lamenting and repenting his failed invasion of Persia, which failure in turn caused the utter loss of his kingdom and all of his fabled wealth and power. He blamed the god Apollo for his disaster, because it was Apollo’s oracle at Delphi who initially told Croesus that, if he attacked Cyrus in Persia, “he would succeed in destroying a great empire.” His mistake was in assuming that the empire he would destroy would be Persia itself, when in fact it was his own.
I recently reread the 9 volumes of The Histories (last time was more than 45 years ago) and this early passage really struck at my heart.
Above all else, it reminds me of the profound gratitude…
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